the persistence of pain: kafka metamorphosis

Contemporary experimental art

In Kafka’s short story, Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa awakens one morning to discover he has been transformed into a helpless bug. The story tells of Gregor’s frustration and distress at being a burden to his family and inability to look after himself.

In a way, this story is analogous to Kafka’s relationship with his father. He held a perpetual sense of failure to meet his father’s expectations. He articulated his distress shortly before he died in a lengthy letter to his father. In it he talked about his feelings of inadequacy, resentment and constant guilt. In this piece, Kafka’s father’s omnipresent eyes pursue the viewer around the room, reflected through Kafka’s own face painted on mirror. 

This creative adventure was quite a challenge, as there were many variables that I hadn’t experimented with previously involved. How would the eyes look painted on the back of the wings? Would there be enough light for the reflected eyes to appear? Would the reflected eyes line up with the face painted on the mirror? I have to admit I was ecstatic when I finally placed the wings over the mirror and realised that the eyes were following around the workshop! One windmill conquered – but I am sure there are many more to come!

The wings were moulded out of concrete with dichroic glass inlays and mother of pearl before being polished. The eyes were painted on the underside of the wings from enamel. Mirror was shaped to sit underneath and the face was airbrushed with acrylic inks and painted with enamels. An acid etched aluminium base was created and the mirror and concrete was fixed to it.

Polished concrete, dichroic glass, mother of pearl, aluminium and mirror.